Kvitova eases into 3rd round at Eastbourne

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EASTBOURNE, England (AP) Petra Kvitova continued to impress with a straight-sets victory over Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round at the Eastbourne International on Tuesday.

The third-seeded Kvitova, who won her fifth title of the season on Sunday in Birmingham, triumphed 7-5, 6-3 and looks in impervious form ahead of her bid to win a third Wimbledon.

Kvitova’s career looked seriously in doubt 18 months ago after a knife attack at her home which led to surgery on her left playing hand.

“I’m pretty happy with my win today,” Kvitova said. “Obviously, I’m a little bit tired, but I got a hit this morning before the match, a warmup.

“The whole tournament (in Birmingham) was more relaxed for me from my side. It was great that I hopefully will save some energy for the next weeks. I felt good with the body, so that’s important.”

In a tight first set, Kvitova secured the first break but Bondarenko broke back when the Czech player was serving for the set.

However, Kvitova broke straight back and held her serve to love, clinching the first set with a delightful serve and volley.

Bondarenko went 3-1 up with a break in the second as Kivitova double-faulted. But that was to be the last game the Ukrainian won. Kvitova sealed the match with another break when her opponent hit a forehand into the net.

Up next for Kvitova is Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated 15th-seeded Daria Gavrilova 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-0.

British No. 1 Johanna Konta will face Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. The top-seeded Wozniacki eased past Aleksandra Krunic 6-1, 6-3.

The 13th-seeded Konta stuttered at times and perhaps benefited from Krunic injuring herself while sliding into the net mid-rally toward the end of the first set.

The Serbian player had treatment on court and played the second set with strapping on her left leg.

Konta has not dropped a set against Wozniacki in their two previous meetings – the 2017 Australian Open and the final of last year’s Miami Open.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Konta said. “I haven’t played her in quite some time and she’s obviously a Grand Slam champion this year, playing some great tennis, so I’ll look forward to that battle.”

Earlier, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus upset sixth-seeded Julia Goerges 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, while Danielle Collins of the United States beat 16th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2, 6-4.

Fifth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Estonia looked back to some of her best tennis as she dismissed Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 7-5.

It was Ostapenko’s first match since losing in the first round of her French Open title defense.

Other seeded players to make it to the third round were: Daria Kasatkina, Elise Mertens, Barbora Strycova and Anastasija Sevastova.

Tennis star Kyrgios to fight charge on mental health grounds

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CANBERRA, Australia – Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios will apply to have an assault charge dismissed on mental health grounds, his lawyer told an Australian court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith appeared on behalf of Kyrgios in a court in the tennis star’s hometown of Canberra and asked for an adjournment so forensic mental health reports could be prepared.

Magistrate Glenn Theakston adjourned the case until Feb. 3, when Kyrgios’ lawyers are expected to apply to have the charge dismissed under a section of the local crimes law.

The 27-year-old Australian tennis star will appear in court in person on that date for the first time since he was charged by police by summons in July.

The law gives magistrates the power to dismiss a charge if they are satisfied an accused person is mentally impaired, and dealing with an allegation in that way would benefit the community and the defendant.

The common assault charge, which has a potential maximum sentence of two years in prison, relates to an incident in January 2021 that was reported to local police last December.

The charge reportedly relates to an incident involving his former girlfriend.

Kukulies-Smith told the court his client’s mental health history since 2015 made the application appropriate, citing a number of public statements made by Kyrgios.

In February, Kyrgios opened up about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life had been “one of my darkest periods.”

“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushed away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt as if I couldn’t talk or trust anyone. This was a result of not opening up and refusing to lean on my loved ones and simply just push myself little by little to be positive.”

Kyrgios made further references to his mental health struggles during his runs to the final at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

After ending Daniil Medvedev’s U.S. Open title defense last month to reach the quarterfinals, Kyrgios expressed pride at lifting himself out of “some really tough situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the court.

Theakston questioned whether Kyrgios would need to appear in court for the February hearing, but Kukulies-Smith said his client wanted to attend.

Kyrgios was scheduled to play at the Japan Open later Tuesday against Tseng Chun-hsin of Taiwan.

Speaking in Tokyo before his matter returned to court, Kyrgios said it was “not difficult at all” to focus on tennis despite the pending charge.

“There’s only so much I can control and I’m taking all the steps and dealing with that off the court,” he told reporters. “I can only do what I can and I’m here in Tokyo and just trying to play some good tennis, continue that momentum and just try to do my job.”

Wimbledon champ Rybakova beats Keys in Ostrava opener

Agel Open Ostrava - Day One
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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakova came from a set down to defeat Madison Keys 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Agel Open on Monday.

Rybakova had lost to Keys this year at the French Open and Cincinnati.

In other first-round matches in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava, Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-3, and local hope Petra Kvitova overcame American Bernanda Pera 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Fresh from her second title of the year in Seoul last month, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia knocked out former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.